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HomeFinlandFinnish Foreign Minister Valtonen: "Russia Has Ruined Its Relationship With Finland"

Finnish Foreign Minister Valtonen: “Russia Has Ruined Its Relationship With Finland”

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Russia made a mistake when it attacked Ukraine, Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen (NCP) said on Monday when addressing a crowd of Finnish diplomats during a three-day annual heads of mission meeting in Helsinki.

Valtonen told the audience of Finnish foreign policy leaders that she believes Ukraine will remain an independent state and that Russia will start to feel the effects of economic sanctions.

She also said that Russia has ruined its relationship with Finland, emphasising Russia’s responsibility for the invasion of Ukraine and noting that the Kremlin needs to be held accountable for the damages caused by the war.

“Wagner’s midsummer revolt demonstrated that we must also prepare for unexpected and sudden changes. We should also be prepared for the possibility that the war will continue for a long time,” Valtonen said, adding Finland’s “main hope” is that Russia ends the war as soon as possible.

She further highlighted the importance of Finland looking after its own defence needs when asked by reporters if Finland planned to donate Hornet fighter jets to Ukraine.

Last week, the Netherlands and Denmark announced plans to give F-16 warplanes to Ukraine.

“As a border state, Finland must take care of its own defence,” Valtonen stated, telling the audience that Finland and the rest of Europe should rapidly increase their own arms production.

Valtonen also underscored that the United States is a key partner for Finland, and that the government aimed to conclude defence cooperation negotiations with the US as soon as possible.

Aside from Russia and Ukraine, Valtonen also mentioned China in her speech, saying Finland must reduce its strategic dependencies on the country.

Finland changing development cooperation focus

Also speaking to Finnish heads of mission was Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Ville Tavio (Finns), who said Ukraine will become Finland’s largest recipient of development aid.

Tavio said that the focus of Finland’s development cooperation will shift during this government’s term.

“The emphasis will shift from bilateral country programmes to development cooperation managed by Finnish NGOs. This means that there will be fewer country programmes than before,” he said.

Tavio added that going forward, country programmes and longer-term development programmes will focus on states that do not support Russia’s war in Ukraine while also adhering to the international rules-based system.

“The majority of African states have not sided with Russia in UN matters—it’s a very small group. I don’t think any such states are among our country programme partners,” he stated.

Last week, news emerged that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs had terminated several dozen fixed-term positions as part of cost-cutting measures by the new government. The move aligns with the government’s plans to save around one billion euros from the development aid budget over the four-year term.

Source: Yle

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